Catching Up While You’re Clocked Out

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Published on March 6, 2018, at 9:29 p.m.
by Stephanie Zielinski.

Heraclitus of Ephesus once said, “Change is the only constant in life,” and this is especially prevalent in public relations today.

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Public relations has always been a multifaceted career. It requires writing, representation, crisis management, media placement and more. For years, PR practitioners have been encouraged to hone in on a certain skill set, like social media or press release writing, but this trend is shifting.

In today’s digital world, people have instant access to events and news. This leaves PR pros at a loss if they are not multitalented. Integrated communications is a requirement to stay ahead. Below are some ways to practice preparing for this change.

Step 1: Cross your ’t’s and dot your ’i’s

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Writing is a skill I developed in college. It did not come naturally to me, but the more I wrote, the better I got (thanks to the people who edited for me along the way). Writing = PR, so it would be silly not to practice this skill outside of the office. For me, this means keeping a journal, sending cards to every member of my family for every holiday, leaving my roommate notes, having a “Thank You” card in the mail at all times and emailing my professors as though they’re my bosses. If you want to make sure you’re not stuck writing like you’re tweeting, then practice elsewhere.

Step 2: Practice makes perfect
Put on your journalism hat and practice writing a story based on a news release. Not hard enough? Time yourself. We always need to be on our toes, and journalistic writing is a part of staying prepared. PR is all about subjectivity to the client, but journalists look for press releases that do the research for them. Make sure to offer angles and hearty facts in each of your releases. If you’re feeling like your press release is not beefy enough to write a story about, add more relevant content.

Step 3: Perfect makes practice?
Do it backward. Take a breaking news story and try to find the bits of press release in it. Journalists are on the clock at all times and often will use more of the press release than you might think. Scenario: Your client’s press release wasn’t picked up from PR Newswire, and you need to start working on placing the content. Solution: Know what journalists are looking for by following press releases that turn into stories, network with the media in your town or niche online groups, and understand how to angle your pitch to each of these sources.

Step 4: READ!

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Recently, I created an email account just for news. I know it is important to stay on top of current events, and I like to read, so I put it all in one spot and subscribed to everything! The Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, The Skimm, PRSA and more are on my list. This means waking up to 20 or more news related emails a day, but now when news breaks, I have no excuse not to receive every angle of it. As a practitioner, it is so important to consume like a member of the audience.

Public relations requires its practitioners to keep their noses to the ground for social trends, news, style requirements and competition. In order to do this, the principles of PR need to be implemented in day-to-day behavior. Make PR easy and fun by using the skills it has given you in your free time.

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